TotW: Wood Storage Box

I bet you’d thought I’d given up on these.  Well, I haven’t.  I never posted pictures of the completed wood storage box that I discussed here.  It really makes my shop space look nicer, gives me more room to work and keeps things organized better.

I won’t be building the bike rack that I discussed in the previous post linked above.  Instead I’ve decided to pull the trigger and build a small shed in my backyard.  It will house my lawn and garden stuff as well as the bikes.  This will be great!  We have plenty of space for storage now, but we don’t have space for storage and a shop.  This will allow me to really use the garage rather than just pile stuff in there.  I can hardly wait to get started on it.  I just need to finish up our TV room end table.  Hopefully that will be the TotW for next week.  I designed it a while ago and started on it this morning.

Below are pictures of the finished wood storage box.  It is made from a single sheet of 1/2″ unfinished plywood to keep the weight down.  I used carpet tape to secure some scrap carpet to the bottom.  This helps keep floor moisture out of the wood, prevents it from scratching surfaces and makes it easier to move around when loaded.

Finished Box
Filled Box
Holds it All


I’ve been using Photoshop since the olden days.  I think I started with version 1.0, but it could have been 2.0.  I know it was before layers were introduced.  I had seen it used for basic color correction, selection, cropping, etc. for a while and started using it for these reasons.  I never had any formal training with the program.

The aha moment is still crystal clear to me.  I could show you the exact spot in Smith Hall that it happened.  A studio mate had designed some sort of hammock and he wanted images of it in use.  The problem was that he couldn’t get some of the materials he needed to build the model with both the correct visual and structural properties so he had substituted some big fat rope for one part.  On his presentation board he had – you are never going to believe this – painted out the rope.  What?!  Impossible?!  How did you do that?!

He then proceeded to show me the magic of the clone tool.  I know, this is small potatoes today, but at the time it was mind expanding.  This program wasn’t just for cleaning up pictures.  It could be used for photo manipulation and image creation.  I would argue that today it is used more for the latter than the former.

I still use the program regularly.  If you’ve looked at any of the digital artwork I’ve posted at this site, it has all been done in Photoshop.  I regularly fool around with photos too.  Sometimes it is for a laugh and sometimes it is for work.  If you are interested having me do something like this for you, email me and I’ll happily give you a quote.  Please contact me before you send any images.  I don’t need to get mail bombed with hundreds of hi-res images.  🙂

Below is an example of an image I modified for a client.  As is often the case with children’s photography, these little wiggle worms couldn’t all be smiling in one picture.  The main objective was to combine the smiling head from one picture with the other two smiling heads from another picture.  I ended up making six modifications.  Can you spot them all?  Answers will be shown below the modified image so don’t read down there if you want to guess first.


1.  Color correction – remove green cast noticeable in hair and skin mostly

2.  New head for right kid

3.  Removed leaf on blanket

4.  Removed owie from right kid’s leg

5.  Removed two big leaves from lawn

6.  Lightened shadows on left kid’s face

Entry Shelf Complete

The entry shelf I started working on a few weeks ago has been complete and installed for some time.  I didn’t scribe it perfectly to the wall in a couple of places so I caulked and painted the edges yesterday.  Mistake.  It looked better without the caulk.  Because the paint sits at an angle on the caulk (not perfectly vertical like on the wall), it catches the light more and looks lighter.  It isn’t bad looking but it was better before.  Lesson learned.

I’m also a little sad that the wood lost its silvery white color, but I knew that it would.  It picked up the strong amber cast of the polyurethane I applied.  Not bad looking at all (actually a better compliment to the floor) and about as durable a finish as I can apply.  The finish also allowed some of the cool refractive properties of the wood to show through so it looks lighter or darker in different areas depending on your viewing angle.

The artwork is courtesy of two of my nieces.

TotW: Sunroom Reorg

This week’s Thing of the Week is a repurposing of space.  This shop space didn’t have any dedicated scrap wood storage so I drew up a plywood box to put it in.  This consolidation frees up most of one wall for additional storage.  Next a vertical bike rack was designed to go on the wall where the scrap wood was stored.  Previously the bikes did not have a dedicated storage space and were constantly in the way.

The box is a very straightforward design with the front side at 18″ tall and the back at 36″.  It will be made out of 1/2″ plywood.

The bike rack will be a vertical 2″x4″ resting on a plywood base and attached to a roof rafter with screws.  Some sort of cover will be incorporated for the bikes as this room gets very dusty when the table saw is used.  I may treat it like a giant weighted shower curtain that attaches to the ceiling and drops straight down to the floor via pulleys.  I may spec two bike/motorcycle covers or maybe BBQ grille covers.  The room is white so I’d like to find a slick white fabric if I go the curtain route.  Maybe parachute material.

If you guys have any suggestions on how to handle the cover, I’m very interested.  I think having something that opens like a shower curtain will just get in the way.  Zippers will probably be too much work and could get clogged with sawdust.

I toyed around with packing the bikes in and having a small storage area above, but I didn’t like how the bikes would have to be supported to achieve this nor was the storage space all that useful.  I think the better bet will be having the cross member on the bike level (tilting the bike forward).  It will make for easier storage and easier and stronger supports.

I was surprised at how much time I spent on this redesign, but there were several options to consider.  I’ll post some pictures once the box and the bike rack are complete.

Also, for those waiting on images of the finished shelf from last week, you’ll have to wait a little bit longer.  I’m waiting until it warms up again just to make sure the finish cures quickly enough to minimize garbage getting stuck in it when it is tacky.

sunroom reorg1

sunroom reorg2

sunroom reorg3

TotW: Entry Shelf

Welcome back true believers!  Thanks again for showing an interest in what I do.  I really appreciate it.

This week I jumped back into the tried and true area of furniture design.

When I tore out and redid my kitchen a few years ago, I built the cabinets out of this really beautiful wood I hadn’t heard of before called Pacific Coast White Birch.  Sure you’ve heard of birch but this stuff looks different.  It has a silvery color as opposed to the sort of bleached yellowish white of birch veneer plywood or poplar.  The grain pattern is more noticeable than regular birch but not overbearing like pine.  It is easy to work with, a little heavy and it smells great when you cut it.

Anyway, I had some left over from the kitchen project and had kept it stored flat and wrapped in a tarp during the intervening years.  I have tripped over this bundle of wood so many times it was a joy to think that I’d finally found a worthwhile use for it and I’d finally get that part of my shop floor back.

The first two days of the week were spent finalizing a design for a console table for our living room.  There was an initial design several months ago, but since then I’d come to realize that it could be better.  You were right Autumn.  It was just too beefy.

Paper Minis - Original on Left Revised on Right

With the design complete I went out in the shop to calculate exactly how much wood I had.  Ancient cat litter and dust went everywhere when I unwrapped the tarp.  To my dismay, most of what was wrapped up was plywood, drawer sides and base molding I’d made for the kitchen.  There were only two pieces of birch!

A quick stroll through our budget showed me that we simply don’t have the money to buy wood for projects right now so I had to come up with something else to make.  I decided on an entryway shelf with drawers and a TV room end table.  Both of these will show off the wood nicely and should be buildable from the stock I have left.  Since the shelf should be quicker and I’d already used up about half the week, I decided to do that one first.

I spent another half of a day trying to come up with a way to incorporate drawers into the shelf.  It would be great to have a place to dump keys, wallet, mail, etc right when you come in the house.  Our entryway is in proportion to our house, which is to say tiny.  This meant the shelf had to be minimal to maintain a nice proportion.  Every time I tried to integrate drawers of a useful size, the whole thing became too bulky.

Closest I Came to Success - Recessed Drawers Below Shelf

My favorite thing about the design is that the top of the shelf is made from a single 10” wide piece of wood.  I love the way it looks!

The construction is pretty straightforward.  The only time consuming part of the process was scribing the shelf to some fairly wavy walls.  Since it doesn’t have a backsplash like a countertop, it has to be a really tight fit to look good.

Sadly, when I test fit it for the first time, a corner caught on a bulge in the wall and chipped up the wood before I could react.  On another test fit, I dropped the shelf on its corner!  I was so angry that I had to set it down and walk away for a little while.  Now I’m waiting for the wood glue and putty to dry on the repairs and I should have pictures of the completed and installed product to show you all early next week.

TotW Follow Up: Video Walk Through of 3D House

After conversing with several of you and looking in to various video hosting sites it seems that Smugmug might be the best but that costs money.  Picasa looks really fantastic for photos (with even some free Photoshop-like features thrown in) but stinks for video.  Vimeo (which I always thought was Vidmeo up until now) could be good too.  In the end I’m trying what one of you recommended and using Photobucket.

Here is the link to the 3D house redesign.  It will walk you through the entire new part of the house and has some basic placeholder items to represent the built-in components I may design for the client.

TotW: Google SketchUp and House Design

I redesigned the interior of a client’s house to incorporate a new full bathroom, the option to move their water heater inside the house, a dedicated computer station/home office, enlarged kitchen, larger TV room and more book storage.  To minimize costs, the envelope of the house was not to change.  I broke this rule slightly because one window in the kitchen had to be shortened to accommodate new countertops.

The project started by talking to the client about what they wanted.  Next I did some rough concept sketches to see if we were on common ground.  After positive feedback I measured and drew up the existing house since no blueprints were on hand.  From there I modified those plans to provide the client with a few dimensionally accurate options.  After a second meeting to discuss these drawings, I provided two refined concepts for final approval.

In addition, I taught myself the basics of Google’s SketchUp this week.  Putting this house in 3D really helped me learn the software.  There are still a lot of things to learn, but I’m happy to have generated something that is dimensionally accurate and useful even if some of the surfaces are screwy.

If any of you SketchUp masters out there have a link to a great house drawing tutorial, be sure to drop it in the comments.  Lessons on how to use SketchUp Pro for house plans are worthless to me right now as SketchUp does not allow for direct import of DWG or DXF files (Why is this only a Pro feature?!).

But are you SUPERstained?

Well friends, it took much more time than I would have expected but the Superstain shirts are finished. I really like the way they turned out and they should be as durable as any store bought t-shirt I think.

Things I learned:
1. Don’t lay the same color on top of itself. Surprisingly, the overlapping sections don’t dry to be the same color.
2. Clear packing tape can remove the dry photo emulsion from the screen, regardless of what the tutorials tell you. If you use this kind of tape as a mask, don’t plan on removing it.
3. On a low 60’s day, the ink will not dry as fast as the tutorials would have you believe. I had ink scraped thin across the screen that sat for many minutes without gumming up.

Overall, I think this is really pretty fun and would recommend that you give it a try. If you have an alternative to the photo emulsion and the fabric ink, please drop your suggestions in a comment for this post.

You can find all of my other mud run articles here.